The Disingenousness of the Washington Post Endorsement

The Washington Post has been suffering from a tremendous credibility gap in their coverage of the 2010 Maryland gubernatorial election, from the content of their stories to a completely bogus poll concocted by the Post staff. So the closer we got to endorsement time, the less credibility and balance I expected from the Post and their writers.

So from that perspective, today’s Washington Post endorsement of Martin O’Malley for a second term as Governor was incredibly unsurprising. But the endorsement does bring up a few curious questions about the Post and their endorsement process.

First and foremost is the fact that the debate sponsored by the Washington Post seemed to have exactly zero impact on the endorsement delivered by the editorial board of the aforementioned Washington Post. The Post story on the debate highlighted many differences between Bob Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley, and generally pointed out that Bob Ehrlich had more concrete and relatable policy solutions to Maryland’s problems than O’Malley has. So question number one to the Post editorial board is this: why sponsor a debate when you are going to ignore its results?

The second main issue I have with the Post endorsement is the focus that is spent on the reduction of the sales tax increase. Here is what the editorial says about that:

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And despite the applause-inducing nature of Mr. Ehrlich’s main fiscal proposal in this campaign — to roll back the 20 percent sales tax increase at the heart of Mr. O’Malley’s 2007 tax package — he has refused to say how he would absorb the resulting loss of $600 million in state revenue.

By pretending that he can painlessly starve state government of income, Mr. Ehrlich has failed to level with Maryland voters. He has also undercut his own campaign’s main thrust, which is that he would reinvigorate the state’s business climate and create jobs. If he balances his budget by hacking away at the budgets for schools or public safety, how credible is his assertion that he would be more successful in attracting new companies?

Of course the Post editorial seems to leave off a few key and basic facts. Mainly, they completely ignore Governor Ehrlich’s confidence that a sales tax decrease will result in increased tax revenues. It should be reasonable common sense. After all, many folks (myself included) reminded Democrats time and time again that increasing taxes would lead to a decrease in revenues. Don’t believe me? Comptroller Peter Franchot (hardly the mouthpiece of fiscal conservatism) pointed out nearly three years ago that the state’s tax hikes would likely lead to a long-term decrease in revenues and a bleaker fiscal picture. We know that a reduction in tax rates will lead to a healthier long-term fiscal outlook., and Bob Ehrlich helpfully pointed that out. When the Post’s moderator didn’t like the answer that she got to the question, Ehrlich merely reiterated the point. And the point is not only factually accurate given past performances, but also something the Post should have been reasonable able to crosscheck with on of their financial writers on staff.

The Post even managed to get a laugh line in their editorial:

And Mr. O’Malley’s four years in office have been scandal-free, a refreshing departure from recent history in Annapolis.

That cracks me up only because of the shear number of coverups the O’Malley Administration has engaged in, ranging the gamut of issues from the environment to the jobs report scandal. There may have been few scandals coming out of the O’Malley Administration, but the secrecy engaged by this Administration really makes one wonder.

The Post editorial was something that we saw coming. Nearly two years ago the Post pretended like it wouldn’t be a contest at all and we had already lost. But it seems awfully curious to me that the Post and its editorial board would sponsor a debate, see the candidates perform, see that fact that one candidate clearly had a better grasp of the facts and the future than the other one, and the endorse the failed incumbent anyway. And while I did not expect a repeat of the Post endorsement of Governor Ehrlich from four years ago, it is still a sad and disappointing exercise

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